Japan-Russia Foreign Ministers' Meeting between Foreign Minister Gemba and Foreign Minister Lavrov (Overview)
On Saturday, January 28, Mr. Koichiro Gemba, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, held a meeting with Mr. Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Russia, during his visit to Japan. A summary of the meeting is as follows. Also, on this occasion, an agreement on simplification of visa procedures between Japan and Russia was signed by both ministers.
1. Japan-Russia relations (General)
- (1) With the events such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Vladivostok and the start of a new administration in Russia in mind, both sides exchanged opinions on a wide range of agendas which must be worked on by both Japan and Russia within the next few years, especially this year. Moreover, Foreign Minister Lavrov invited Foreign Minister Gemba to make a visit to Russia.
- (2) Amid drastic changes in the security environment in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan-Russia relations are taking on a new importance. In order to construct an appropriate relationship between Japan and Russia as partners in this region, both sides confirmed again to develop cooperative relations in every field, including security and defense, and economy with a focus on energy and modernization.
2. Cooperation in the field of security
- (1) Both sides agreed on the importance of strengthening cooperation in the field of security for the purpose of contributing to the peace and stability of the region in a cooperative manner, while increasing transparency in the field of security between Japan and Russia.
- (2) Based on this common recognition, both sides confirmed to hold the next security consultative meeting, which has been periodically held at the vice ministerial level, this spring. Foreign Minister Gemba expressed his expectation for exchanges in the field of defense such as consultative meetings between the authorities and exchanges between the Maritime Self-Defense Force and the Russian Navy, which have been ongoing, to further expand.
- (3) Both of the foreign ministers discussed the current security environment in the Asia-Pacific region and cooperation on the basis of such environment.
3. Cooperation on the sea
Both sides focused on the "sea" as a keyword for development of cooperation between Japan and Russia and held a discussion on "cooperation on the sea." Then, both sides agreed on continuing consultative discussion on specific content of such cooperation in the future.
4. Territorial Issues
Foreign Minister Gemba stated Japan's position that the four islands belong to Japan, and emphasized that in order to build a genuinely amicable relationship between Japan and Russia, concluding a peace treaty by resolving the territorial issue is more necessary than ever before. The Foreign Ministers agreed that while the two countries' standpoints differ considerably, based on the growing atmosphere of mutual trust the issue will not be shelved, and that debate toward resolving the issue will continue in a calm environment based on the principles of law and justice and the two countries' various agreements and documents thus far. Foreign Minister Gemba suggested reactivating vice-ministerial-level talks, to which Foreign Minister Lavrov said he hoped to hold them after Russia's new government is formed.
Foreign Minister Gemba requested that multiple entry and exit points be established for free visits and visits to graves on the Northern Territories. This is to be discussed in the future.
5. Economic Relations
- (1) The Foreign Ministers confirmed that Japan-Russia economic relations are steadily growing and deepening, including that Japanese-Russian trade reached a record figure of over 30 billion US dollars in 2011.
- (2) The Foreign Ministers agreed to cooperate closely toward the APEC Summit in Vladivostok in September.
- (3) The Foreign Ministers discussed recent bilateral projects such as putting into operation an LNG plant in Vladivostok and the Sakhalin III project, and they agreed to continue to press ahead with Japan-Russia cooperation, centering on the energy sector and modernization.
- (4) Foreign Minister Lavrov welcomed the Japanese Diet's approval of the bilateral agreement for cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
6. Practical Cooperation
- (1) The Foreign Ministers agreed to aim to further expand Japan-Russia personnel exchanges, by putting into force promptly the agreement on simplifying visa procedures that was signed this time.
- (2) The Foreign Ministers welcomed a substantial agreement that has been reached on an accord to establish a Japan-Russia cultural center, and agreed to aim to sign the accord promptly.
7. Cooperation in the International Arena
- (1) North Korea
The Foreign Ministers exchanged views on the situation on the Korean Peninsula accompanying the change in leadership in North Korea, and agreed that Japan and Russia will cooperate closely toward the prompt resumption of the Six-Party Talks. With regard to the abduction issue, Foreign Minister Lavrov said Russia supports a conclusive resolution to the problem and is raising the issue in the dialogue with North Korea.
- (2) Others
The Foreign Ministers exchanged views on the regional situations in Iran, Syria and other countries, as well as Security Council reform, cooperation in the United Nations, missile defense and other matters, and agreed to continue to pursue Japan-Russia bilateral cooperation in various areas in the international arena.
Back to Index